Commentary

Fantasy Forecaster: Busy week for Boston

Updated: March 2, 2008, 1:19 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

All statistics are through the games of Friday, Feb. 29.

On tap

Stacked! -- Teams with four-plus games, regardless of locale

Anaheim Ducks (OTT -- Mon, @CHI -- Wed, @COL -- Thu, MON -- Sun)
Boston Bruins (@WAS -- Mon, FLA -- Tue, TOR -- Thu, WAS -- Sat, @NYR -- Sun): That's right, folks, it's the magical, mythical five-game schedule! Enjoy it, because it's the only time we'll see it happen all season.
Chicago Blackhawks (@MIN -- Tue, ANA -- Wed, SJ -- Fri, EDM -- Sun)
Colorado Avalanche (VAN -- Tue, ANA -- Thu, DAL -- Sat, @DAL -- Sun)
Minnesota Wild (CHI -- Tue, @CAR -- Thu, @ATL -- Fri, SJ -- Sun)
Montreal Canadiens (@SJ -- Mon, @PHO -- Thu, @LA -- Sat, @ANA -- Sun)
Nashville Predators (@EDM -- Tue, @VAN -- Thu, @CGY -- Fri, @DET -- Sun)
Ottawa Senators (@ANA -- Mon, @SJ -- Wed, @LA -- Thu, @PHO -- Sat)
San Jose Sharks (MON -- Mon, OTT -- Wed, @CHI -- Fri, @MIN -- Sun)
Tampa Bay Lightning (PIT -- Tue, @PHI -- Thu, @NJ -- Fri, @CLM -- Sun)
Washington Capitals (BOS -- Mon, @BUF -- Wed, @BOS -- Sat, PIT -- Sun)

Home cookin' -- Teams with three-plus home games

Boston Bruins (@WAS -- Mon, FLA -- Tue, TOR -- Thu, WAS -- Sat, @NYR -- Sun)
Chicago Blackhawks (@MIN -- Tue, ANA -- Wed, SJ -- Fri, EDM -- Sun)
Colorado Avalanche (VAN -- Tue, ANA -- Thu, DAL -- Sat, @DAL -- Sun)
Philadelphia Flyers (BUF -- Tue, TB -- Thu, NYI -- Sat)

Short stick -- Teams with two games

Calgary Flames (CLM -- Tue, NAS -- Fri)
Detroit Red Wings (STL -- Wed, NAS -- Sun)

The long haul -- Teams with three-plus games, all road

Montreal Canadiens (@SJ -- Mon, @PHO -- Thu, @LA -- Sat, @ANA -- Sun)
Nashville Predators (@EDM -- Tue, @VAN -- Thu, @CGY -- Fri, @DET -- Sun)
Ottawa Senators (@ANA -- Mon, @SJ -- Wed, @LA -- Thu, @PHO -- Sat)
Pittsburgh Penguins (@TB -- Tue, @FLA -- Thu, @WAS -- Sun)

The matchups

Lightin' the lamp -- Good scorers matchups

Boston Bruins (@WAS -- Mon, FLA -- Tue, TOR -- Thu, WAS -- Sat, @NYR -- Sun): Simple logic here. The Bruins have a five-game week, and their production in that many games will almost certainly beat even a quality three-game week, unless you're in a league that averages statistics per game. What helps the Bruins' cause even more is that two of the games are against the Capitals, who must settle their Cristobal Huet/Olaf Kolzig logjam; one against the Panthers and inconsistent Tomas Vokoun; and one against the defensively challenged Maple Leafs. Zdeno Chara (8 goals, 3 assists in 14 games since the All-Star break), Glen Murray (4 G, 2 A in 10) and Marco Sturm (6 G, 7 A in 13) are well worth activating. … New Jersey Devils (@TOR -- Tue, TB -- Fri, @TOR -- Sat): It's interesting that the Devils make two separate trips to Toronto in only six days, but again, the Maple Leafs are shaky on defense, and those games sandwich a third against the Lightning, which also has a mediocre defense. Keep riding those Patrik Elias (3 G, 13 A in 16 games since the All-Star break), Brian Gionta (4 G, 6 A in 16) and Paul Martin (2 G, 6 A, plus-10 in 16) hot streaks. … Pittsburgh Penguins (@TB -- Tue, @FLA -- Thu, @WAS -- Sun): I can't wait to see what these Penguins can do once Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa are in the same lineup, but even with both Crosby and Hossa shelved, this team faces a scoring-friendly three-game road set. Ryan Malone (11 G, 10 A in 30 road games) is actually one of the team's most surprising road standouts.

No, it's a trap! -- Bad scorers matchups

Colorado Avalanche (VAN -- Tue, ANA -- Thu, DAL -- Sat, @DAL -- Sun): They get Roberto Luongo, Jean-Sebastien Giguere and then home-and-home games against the red-hot Marty Turco (who's 10-2-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in 12 starts since the All-Star break). Take a wait-and-see approach with Peter Forsberg, among others. … New York Islanders (@NYR -- Tue, NYR -- Thu, @PHI -- Sat): The Islanders already had one of the league's weakest offenses, and while they've beaten the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist three times in four meetings this season, that's not at all an easy matchup. The Flyers' Martin Biron, meanwhile, is a perfect 3-0 in three starts against the Isles. Mike Comrie should be about it among your Islanders choices. … Toronto Maple Leafs (NJ -- Tue, @BOS -- Thu, NJ -- Sat): Who wants to deal with the Devils' Martin Brodeur twice in one week, even if both games are at home? Toss in a road game at the Bruins and Tim Thomas, who has a 2.11 GAA and .932 save percentage in 24 home starts, and it's a fine time to bench Jason Blake (3 G, 7 A in 15 games since the All-Star break) and Pavel Kubina (2 G, 2 A in 15).

Stone 'em cold -- Good goalie matchups

Nikolai Khabibulin
Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty ImagesNikolai Khabibulin has been hot of late and has a few favorable matchups this week.
Chicago Blackhawks (@MIN -- Tue, ANA -- Wed, SJ -- Fri, EDM -- Sun): In light of personnel changes between the pipes in Montreal, Tampa Bay and Washington at the trade deadline, there are going to be owners who must dig a little deeper to fill their goalie spots for the short term, perhaps for the rest of the season. As such, it's schedules like these that could make for decent spot-start opportunities, especially in leagues with daily transactions. Most especially, check those home games against the Ducks and Oilers, each a bottom-five offense (Ducks, 28th, 2.46 goals per game; Oilers, 26th, 2.54), and consider Nikolai Khabibulin, he of the 2.11 GAA in six games since the All-Star break, as a one-week sleeper. … New York Rangers (NYI -- Tue, @NYI -- Thu, BOS -- Sun): Again, Lundqvist hasn't had much luck against these Islanders so far this season, but keep in mind he has a 2.28 GAA against the Isles and 1.90 GAA in three games against the Bruins. Neither of those offenses is considered close to elite, so at the very least Lunqdvist should contribute to your squad in the all-important ratio categories.

The sieve -- Bad goalie matchups

Phoenix Coyotes (@DAL -- Wed, MON -- Thu, OTT -- Sat): Not that Ilya Bryzgalov has slipped back to the realm of the fantasy-useless, but he's no longer the stud he was a month or two ago. He's 5-5-2 with a 2.28 GAA and .933 save percentage in 13 starts since the All-Star break, and those are three top-10 offenses he'll face this week (Stars, 6th, 2.96 goals per game; Canadiens, 2nd, 3.12; Senators, 1st, 3.20). … San Jose Sharks (MON -- Mon, OTT -- Wed, @CHI -- Fri, @MIN -- Sun): Incredibly, Evgeni Nabokov has been a tad inconsistent of late, with a 7-5-1 record, 2.38 GAA and .895 save percentage in his past 13 starts. Not that he's a poor fantasy option, but temper your expectations with him set to face the league's top two offenses, as well as the red-hot Blackhawks (44 goals in 14 games since the All-Star break). … Washington Capitals (BOS -- Mon, @BUF -- Wed, @BOS -- Sat, PIT -- Sun): I'm not touching the Capitals' goaltending duo until it settles, and up to this point in the season, neither Huet nor Kolzig has established himself as the clear go-to guy. They might split these four games evenly, and it's not worth risking that your choice gets the Sabres and Penguins, who both have top-10 offenses (Sabres, 5th, 3.02 goals per game; Penguins, 10th, 2.85).

Lineup tidbits

Sidney Crosby (high ankle sprain): Most estimates have him missing another two weeks, and even the most generous projections have him out for all of Week 23.

Peter Forsberg (conditioning/chronic foot problems): As noted above, the Avalanche's schedule isn't scoring-friendly, and it's unclear exactly when Forsberg will make his season debut. Let him play a game or two before you consider activating him.

Martin Havlat (shoulder): Say it with me, folks, how shocking: Havlat is hurt again. This one is a more serious issue, though -- one that might cost him the rest of the season (playoffs included, possibly). If so, he'll finish with 27 points in 35 games.

Marian Hossa (sprained knee): He's expected to miss about a week, putting his return sometime in the ballpark of Thursday's game at Florida or Sunday's at Washington. I wouldn't be surprised if he's held out until the team returns home on March 12.

Nikolai Khabibulin (back): Check his status before your league's lineup deadline because if he's not the one getting the benefit of a fantasy-friendly schedule, it'll be the shakier Patrick Lalime, 4-3 with a 3.38 GAA and .891 save percentage in his past seven starts.

Nicklas Lidstrom (knee): He told Michigan Live (Mlive.com) on Friday that he's on schedule with his rehabilitation, putting him about a week to 10 days away from returning. We might see Lidstrom back late in Week 23, but wait until Week 24 to activate him.

Chris Pronger (facial): He sat out Friday's game and might miss a couple more following surgery this past Monday to repair a broken jaw. There's a chance he'll play Monday, and if it's even 50/50 that he will, you should keep him active.

Brian Rafalski (groin): He's not expected to play Sunday, but Mlive.com reports he should return in time for Wednesday's game, the Red Wings' first of Week 23. It's a two-game week for them, though, so you should be able to find a better starter for the week than Rafalski.

Alex Tanguay (neck): He missed Friday's game after a game-time decision and remains day-to-day. Like Rafalski, Tanguay's team is the only other team scheduled for two games in Week 23. And like with Rafalski, you should be able to do better.

Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.

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